Two Buck Yuks: Riding the storm outWritten by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m writing this in a hotel room in Grand Rapids, Mich., waiting for the weather to clear before I drive home. It’s close to midnight, and I have to get my kids to school in the morning. The storms that rolled through Nov. 17 did their fair share of damage, though we were largely spared the horrors that befell Kokomo, Peoria and other cities to the west. All I’ll be dealing with on my journey is high winds, some leftover rain squalls and the overcaffeinated thoughts in my head.
So was it worth being away from my family when a potential natural disaster hit? Did the risks I took driving from last night’s gig in Lansing, through horizontal rain and hail, outweigh the rewards? These are the big-picture questions that bubble under the surface for anyone who sacrifices time and resources to pursue what is ultimately a selfish endeavor. My kids didn’t have a better day today because I had a good set in a hotel bar. I blew the doors off the club in Lansing before an audience of 250 last night, but after gas and meals, the trip was financially a net loss. What does that say about me as a father and spouse?
I made a joke tonight onstage that my iPhone now tells me, when I’m away from home, how much time it will take to drive back. My wallpaper photo is a picture of my children. All I need now is a “Cat’s in the Cradle” ringtone when my son calls and I’ll have the crappy-parenting hat trick. I wonder how much Verizon charges for that?
It got a laugh, but it’s not so funny as I pack my bag to drive home in bad weather. The idea behind pursuing a creative muse is to wring as much as you can out of a finite life. I want to show my children by example that you should pursue the things you love in life with passion and gusto. But I also don’t want to be an empty spot in their childhood memories.
Most of the time, I keep that nagging voice of self-doubt at bay — I know the time I spend with my kids is meaningful, and they know they are loved. But when you’re white-knuckling the steering wheel at 1 a.m. trying to keep the car on the road, the radio station’s been simulcasting the local StormTrack DopplerPanic 97000 Team for the past two hours, and your brain is replaying photos of leveled houses in an endless loop, those primal pack-leader instincts come to the surface and you feel like you’ve let down generations of alpha males.
Once the sun’s out tomorrow, this feeling will fade and I’ll be itching to hit the road again. It’s a weird, uneasy truce you make, fitting all the pieces of a life together. I’m starting to realize I’ll never have it all figured out, and that I’m not supposed to. We do our best, we swing for the fences, and when the world gets ugly, we ride the storm out until we get home. Wish me luck.
Keith Bergman hosts the Two Buck Yuks comedy showcase at The Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St., at 8 p.m. every Wednesday at 8 p.m.